TRR photo by Amanda Reed 

Camouflauge: function not fashion

The use of camouflage, or camo, is integral to the art of hunting. While it may be a central part of the sport, many either take it far too seriously or not seriously enough. Believe it or not, there are standards for what camo will work best in various hunting scenarios and for what can be worn while hunting as opposed to a simple fashion trend.

Camo is like a rainbow; it comes in many different colors and shades, and while we all think of the standard military camo of the second world war, with its paint splotches of plain green, brown and black, most of us need a short lesson in what is available now.

The military has changed since then, and now sports a digitized checkered camo with mostly paler colors. Why? Well, because for the most part, they operate in more dusty and less lush-green environments than, say, Vietnam or other rainforest- covered theatres of war. The key is blending in. You’re probably thinking “No duh,” so let’s take a look at common hunting camo.

In choosing hunting camo, you need to be wary of a few things. First to avoid are large areas of plain color. You may think that the all-black thermal shirt you are wearing is sneaky, like a ninja, and will be hard to notice in the dark woods. But animals like bear and deer and especially turkey keep an eye out for irregular patterns and colors. Imagine you are an animal walking along in the woods, and at the base of a large tree you see what appears to be a black hole. That isn’t going to seem normal; in fact, the large plain color, black or not, is going to throw up red flags and potentially spook your prey—or at the very least, make them averse to coming within shooting range.

Another thing to keep in mind is the fancy camo you see in stores, particularly the camo being sold to women. I’m sorry, ladies, but the hunting industry preys on you too by adding little pink edges and sparkly buttons to jackets and pants. Think of it like a lure to a trapper’s set. Walk away. These flashy gimmicks they put on camo can often be the thing that catches a buck’s eye as you sit still in the tree above him. In general you want to avoid anything flashy, or anything that has colors that do not belong in the woods. Is it possible to get away with these things? Sure. But you can’t guarantee you’ll get away with it, and most hunters want to do everything they can to optimize their chances. Be smart and wear camo that matches your environment. Avoid flashy add-ons and keep it simple.

To the hunter wearing a full Gillie suit, I applaud your ambition; however, I would recommend checking that the overabundance of forest garb and camo doesn’t impede your ability to move, stay warm, or keep dry. Staying stealthy can be as simple as camo jeans, shirt and hat. Try not to encumber yourself any more than is necessary.

And while I’m on the topic of simplicity, it’s important to note that while simple camo clothes can work to help you escape detection by animals like whitetail deer, they are not sufficient for an animal like the turkey. Turkeys have incredible eyesight, comparable to that of an eagle. I highly recommend wearing any earth color for gloves to cover your hands, and of course a face net or mask. Face paint also works but can be uncomfortable, so that’s up to you.

Generally speaking, keep it simple. Dress to your needs and not to impress. If you want to go peacocking in the woods, I assure you the result will be very safe quarry who will thank you for letting them know you were there.

 

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